Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Rainy and warm
I am exhausted. It was a wonderful weekend at the Historical Writers’ Retreat, but I am completely used up.
Friday was busy in waves at the library. I got on the road mid-afternoon. The directions were a little confusing, once I got past Providence, but I arrived before dark, and the leaves have already turned in CT.
Amusing signage on the way: sign for a crematorium right beside a second hand store called “Recovered Relics.”
The house is old and alive. Not haunted, but alive. I had a lovely room upstairs, looking out over the back. Got settled, went down to the lovely buffet supper. There were a dozen of us, plus the terrific staff. And an adorable, tiny Pomeranian named Bear.
Three of us are playwrights, and the others work in various disciplines, but we all share a love of historical detail. We talked well into the night. I woke up around 2, had trouble getting back to sleep, woke up again around 5, and gave up and got up a little after 6.
First one down to breakfast – another wonderful buffet. After breakfast, it was hard to tear myself away from the lively discussion to write. But I did, and went upstairs to do my work – got about 1200 words done. Came down a little before lunch to try on some corsets and costumes – decided I really like the long line of the Titanic-era corsets and clothes. Really like them.
After lunch, three of us went into the town of Putnam and spent the afternoon poking around antique and other markets. I didn’t find anything that needed to come home with me in the antique market (although my colleagues did), but when we went to one of the other stores, we all bought tiaras (because every girl should have a tiara), and a feathered mask and a lovely pair of gloves. Stopped at the liquor store on the way back to pick up some contribution for the dinner.
We dressed for afternoon tea. My costume was more steampunk recreation than correct historical rendition, but that’s that. We had a lovely tea with delicious food and good tea (served on china very similar to some in my collection), and discussed customs, mores, and the like. It was fun.
We learned how to quadrille, which was both enormous fun, and makes me determined to add more dancing to as many of my upcoming books as possible! Also makes me want to create dances, for both INITIATE and for the SPARKLE AND TARNISH steampunk series that have a foundation in the actual dances and then depart.
We had a short break, and then had a formal procession in to dinner. The dinner was served in courses and was magnificent, with the dining room decorated in high Victorian style. First course: pumpkin apple soup, served with champagne. Second course: bite-sized bits of sardine, herring, and scallop, served with white wine. Third course: orange ginger ice. Fourth course: chicken wellington, squash, and the other vegetable escapes me, served with red wine. Fifth course: salad with olives and asparagus (and we’d just learned, that afternoon, that the ONLY appropriate way to eat asparagus is with one’s fingers).
We talked about spiritualism and the way the séance had developed. Then I did tarot readings – which, along with conversation, carried us until well after 2 AM. Usually, I will do one or two readings in a day, and pause in between, eating pretzels (bread and salt, to ground). This evening, I read about eight people back-to-back without stopping – or pausing to ground in between. And then I did an extra reading – long story there.
Packed and fell into bed. Woke up with a whole new understanding of “burn out”. It felt like my insides had been scoured by a flamethrower. There was just nothing left. I couldn’t eat; I could barely drink. At first, I figured it was a hangover, but it certainly didn’t feel like any hangover I’ve ever had in my life – and I’ve had some doozies. I overdid the readings, and I paid a price.
I slept on and off most of the morning, feeling guilty that I was missing the conversation, but unable to even sit up for more than a few minutes at a time. I managed a little lunch, and a walk outside after, then got on the road and headed back. It was a rough drive, but I made it.
Got home, forced myself to eat something. Protein helped. Went to bed ridiculously early.
Up at the normal time on Monday, still feeling hollow. Pulled it together enough to write nearly 2000 words on INITIATE, and to think about stuff for Sparkle and Tarnish, and to feel something start percolating deep down. Did some crystal work and earth work to draw up some energy.
Had lunch with a writer pal in Plymouth to plan our joint event at the end of the month. It was a good conversation, ranging on a wide range of topics along with the planning. Again, I focused on protein, and felt a little stronger.
Back home, paid some bills, got some cat food in, and then headed back over the bridge to the Buzzards Bay Dive Shop for some BALTHAZAAR research. They’re wonderful there, helpful and excited about the book. I’m going to actually study some diving and wreck diving basics as though I was going to get certified, and then we’ll work through specific scenes as I write them. I think that will work well. It also got me excited about the book again, which, poor thing, has been neglected during my obsession with INITIATE.
Got a chance to read CORAMBIS, the fourth Melusine book. Loved it. Gilroi Mildmay is one of my favorite characters in fiction. Period. It ended on a positive note, with their lives continuing, although we (the readers) are no longer on the journey. I completely respect Sarah Monette’s decision not to write more about them, while still feeling I could read another twenty books with Mildmay at the center.
To bed early on Monday, still exhausted. Up Tuesday, still feeling off kilter. Worked on INITIATE. Baked for the cozy mystery group. Re-read SECONDHAND SPIRITS so I’d be prepared. Tried to make the broomstick cookies, which were a disaster. The proportions in the recipe were wrong. Last time I pull a recipe off Facebook! Jeez.
Up early this morning. Worked on INITIATE, although the (also steampunk) piece that’s been percolating is starting to take shape. I have the core characters. The first sequence is fairly well formed in my head. I have basic plot ideas, although I have to smooth them out. I THINK this will be a novella, rather than a novel (famous last words).
For INITIATE, I’m about to embark on a complicated fight sequence, followed by a quiet sequence between two characters that surprised me when it evolved, and should surprise the readers. I’m going to try to write a bit on it tonight, or get up VERY early tomorrow morning so I can write the entire fight sequence in one session. Otherwise, I’ll lose the momentum.
Busy day at the library today. Good busy, but still busy. I feel like a pumpkin whose insides were scraped out for Halloween. It’ll take awhile to get my energy back. At least, during Mercury Retrograde, I don’t usually read cards anyway, but this is October, my busiest season, and I’m flamed out already.
Which is relevant to some of the scenes I’m currently writing, and I can give a more solid sensory description to my characters. But it sucks to actually live it.